WANTED: Courageous mothers

Growing up in the time of western movies and Zane Grey books, my mother spent hours with her brother at the movie theaters or in the living room reading – taking in the adventures of these westerners. Watching western TV shows as a child, I too was enthralled by the adventure and courage of the strong women and men ready to fight against evil and protect the good. They were firm in what they believed and basically, you just didn’t “mess with them”. Today we need Christian mothers who like these heroes, fight against evil, stand up for good and who are:  Firm, Faithful, and Good.

The mothers in my own family have shown me how to be firm, faithful, and good. My maternal great grandmother and her daughter, my grandmother, were loving, strong women, and firm in their stand for God and His Word. They were both active in mission groups and teaching Sunday school classes at church, faithfully teaching their own children to love and worship God, to do good and hate evil by their example. They prayed for their families knowing God would take care of them.

Their faithful lives influenced my own mother – another strong woman, firm in her faith in God, His Word, her Savior Jesus, prayer, and doing what is right. My sister and I were often amazed at her connection with God. She could find out anything without trying when we did wrong and instilled a deep respect for God in our lives, telling us – “I may be your mother but God is your Heavenly Father and you answer to Him.”  We also knew God’s love and forgiveness through her love for us and her love for others. Although she taught Middle School math all week, she would still give up her time on Sunday mornings to teach middle school girls in Sunday school classes. She never had time or wanted to join in the women’s gossip groups but spent her time teaching others, loving our father, encouraging her family and helping us succeed.

Today, more than ever, there is a need – a wanted poster in every community and city in our nation for courageous mothers who are Firm, Faithful and Good!

Christian mothers who love their children are firm, not spoiling them but teaching them to love God and His Word, love and respect others, and to stand up for good, speak out against evil. They do not let the culture around them or others turn them away from their faith in God and His Word even if it means ridicule or unpopularity. They are immoveable.

 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Christian mothers who really love their children are faithful, taking care of their children emotionally, mentally, and physically. They are faithful to pray for their children and never give up praying. They know there is an evil enemy who wants to destroy their children and they stand as faithful guards praying for them daily.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”     Colossians  4:2

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12 

Christian mothers who love their children are good; they love good not evil. They train their children in what is good in the things they read or watch in various media, keeping evil influences away from their children that are around them in schools and neighborhoods. They show by example how to be good in taking care of the weak and giving to the poor.

Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.” Amos 5:14

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24

As we celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, I encourage all Christian mothers and those who are like a mother to other children, to be firm, faithful, and good. Just like the western heroes, may you be an example of courage to your children – a mother who abides with Jesus who gets her strength from Him.

 

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Daily Faithfulness Rewarded

Reminiscing about his many years of service to God, this past Sunday friends and family, past and present members all gathered to honor Pastor Ken Aune as he retired from 39 years of faithful ministry. My husband Lowe and I joined many who traveled to this Evangelical Free Church (EFCA) in Cary, NC which Ken started in 1994, to celebrate a life of faithfulness to God. A servant, who had run the race well and finished well, planting two churches in Nebraska and North Carolina, influencing hundreds of lives with the gospel of Jesus.

Ken joins a host of pastors, missionaries, and teachers who have given most of their lives to serve God in ministry without much recognition from the world. Like many, he preached thousands of sermons, visited the sick, married couples, baptized believers (including our daughter), shared the good news of Jesus and prayed for those who needed God in their lives. These are the faithful who continue to plant seeds for the gospel of Jesus trusting God daily for spiritual fruit.

You may know about the great servants of God – King David, Daniel, Peter and John, and Paul but have you heard of Epaphras, Tychicus, Onesimus, and Silas?  We may not know much about them but they too are listed as faithful servants of Christ:

“…Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ…” Colossians 1:7

“Tychicus…is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” Colossians 4:7

“…Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you” Colossians 4:9

“With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother,” 1 Peter 5:12

Paul, an apostle of Jesus, desired faithfulness in his calling to preach the gospel. He said, “However, I consider my life nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24  And after a faithful life of following Jesus, enduring hardships, beatings, imprisonments, hunger, sleepless nights, and hard work (2 Corinthians 6:3-11), Paul could finally say:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

As followers of Jesus how can we be faithful to the course God gives us in a society that so easily quits? Where every day people walk away and say, “I just can’t do this anymore.”?  We need to lean on Jesus – abiding with him, trusting in his words that encourage us, asking for his power to produce the fruit of faithfulness in our lives.

Have you already quit or considered leaving what God has called you to do? Are you not seeing success as the world counts success?  Are you burned out and tired? God is your strength. He sees your faithfulness. His view of success is daily obedience and faithfulness to his calling no matter the results.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful…” Psalm 18:25

“the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.” Psalm 37:28

Has God given you a ministry to others in a church or on a mission field? Then be faithful to serve trusting God for the results.

Has God given you a family to provide for?  Then be faithful to work hard and trust God to provide.

Has God given you a husband or wife? Then be faithful to each other, serving each other.

Has God given you a season of being single? Then be faithful to be pure and holy in your singleness.

Has God given you children to teach and raise up to know him? Then be faithful to take care of them, teaching and training them to know God.

Has God given you the opportunity to be a student? Then be faithful to study, making wise use of your time.

Has God given you someone to serve – an aging parent, a handicapped child, or someone who is sick? Then be faithful to serve knowing you are serving Christ (Colossians 3:23)

As believers in Jesus, God calls us to be faithful and someday he will reward us for our faithfulness on earth. Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Revelations 22:12

Even though our friend, Ken, is finishing this part of the race by retiring from his church, I know he will continue to be faithful to God in whatever is next for him. May we daily abide with Jesus making it our only aim to “finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.”

 

The Power of Self Control

It’s February, just a few weeks since New Year resolutions. How is it going? Some victories, some changes? By now, some people may have given up or forgotten their new direction and desire for change.

When I decide to make a road trip I plan the route, clean the car, put my packed suitcase in the back, take food and drinks for the ride, and I’m ready to go. But if there is no gas in the car, with all my planning and preparing I’m not going anywhere. Like the road trip, I can make plans and have the best intentions for change but I need something important to get going. I need the power of self-discipline and self-control. Daily!

Right now, we are living in a time where self-control is almost nonexistent. We often hear people say, “I just can’t stop it”, “It’s just part of who I am.” Even Paul, the Apostle of Jesus admitted: “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.” Romans 7:21-24, NLT

The world around us and our own sinful nature war with our minds trying to stop us from doing what is right. So what do we do?  Give up?  Where is the power to change? Even on a long road trip, eventually you will need to fill up with gas again when you are running on empty. Are you running on empty?

Thankfully, as believers in Jesus we have the power that never goes empty. Paul went on to say, “Who will free me…Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:25 NLT

Jesus told his disciples, “Apart from me you can do nothing…but if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:5, 7

We can’t accomplish anything but through Jesus’s power. As we walk with, “remain” with Jesus, reading and “remaining” in God’s Word, then we will want what Jesus desires. Our desire will be to produce spiritual fruit. Then when we pray what Jesus desires Jesus will grant our requests. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit who will produce this fruit: “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives…self-control.” Galatians 5:16, 22-23

As believers in Jesus, we should be the best example to the world around us of self-control. Yet, we often look like the world with little or no power. I call it spiritual “amnesia”. We have forgotten Jesus, His words and His promises to answer our prayers. We have forgotten the power He has given to us through the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life. Jesus desires for us to change and He is willing if we just ask. It is a new year with new resolutions- a new week, a new day, a new direction. Don’t forget the gas, the power of self-control to keep you on the right track. Ask Jesus for His power:

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your power to not only forgive my sin and make me your own, but also the power you give me through the Holy Spirit to live a fruitful life. Thank you that you desire to produce the fruit of self-control in my life. I give you my life and my lists and ask that you would change these areas. I am trusting in you to bring these changes. I need the Holy Spirit in my life moment by moment to guide me. Thank you that you promise to answer my prayer in your will. I look expectantly for what you will do in my life this year and desire to give you the glory for the change. In your powerful name, Amen

Are You Fearless for God?

Many Christians have lost everything fleeing there homes instead of giving up their faith in Jesus. They live in “tent cities” with no where to go.

 

This week, on October 31, among the “noise” of Halloween, some people celebrated the fearless act of a godly man who just couldn’t remain silent about the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Martin Luther had studied God’s Word and came to see that forgiveness and salvation, our righteousness “is by a gift of God, namely by faith.” He believed, “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).

This belief was not accepted by the religious people and the culture of his day. But with great courage and boldness, in 1517 Martin fearlessly nailed his 95 Theses proclaiming these truths on the door of Whittenberg Castle church. He was summoned to a trial by the Holy Roman Emperor to recant his beliefs but passionately proclaimed, “I cannot and will not recant…here I stand, I can do no other.”

Martin Luther is only one of thousands, millions, since the resurrection of Jesus Christ who have fearlessly, passionately and courageously proclaimed their faith in Jesus and God’s Word, and would not “recant” even if it meant death. These believers just couldn’t remain silent. Through torture, imprisonment, accusations, loss of homes and family – these are the persecuted who desire to obey God instead of follow the world.

In the early church, great persecution came to the followers of Jesus who wouldn’t stay silent about the One who had forgiven and loved them. It was assumed that this would be a part of their lives, as Paul wrote:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life, in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  2 Timothy 3:12 

 Every believer in Jesus, who abides with Him, loves God’s Word, and boldly shares its truth with others will be persecuted in some way. Around the world we have seen Christians beheaded and crucified, refugees forced to leave their homes, countries and families and others who have stayed in those countries to share the love of Christ with their enemies. These are all part of the body of Christ. They feel alone and left behind by the rest of the world – even by other believers who have more of the world’s goods and more freedom. Most of them only ask for prayers or Christian materials so that they can continue to share the goods news of Jesus with others. They have truly given their whole lives to Jesus and live with a passion to tell others about their God who saved them from their sins and has given them hope. They must continue the work. They remain fearless.

I count it a privilege to be a volunteer voice for my persecuted brothers and sisters around the world through the ministry of Voice of the Martyrs. Although I may not be able to visit them and personally cry with them in prison, I can pray for them and share their stories with others. Through Voice of the Martyrs and other ministries, I can support them and their families financially sending clothing, food and Bibles.

God commands us as followers of Jesus to not forget our family who are persecuted:

“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”     Hebrews 13:3

This Sunday, November 6, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. How will you remember them? Will you tell others their stories? Will you share them with your Bible study or church? I strongly encourage you to go to http://persecution.com and sign up for their newsletter, adopt a front-line worker to pray for, be a voice for the voiceless – remember those in prison for their faith in Jesus. And if you want someone to be a voice at your church or community group contact me. I would love to share their stories.

Many Christians meet secretly to read the Bible

Many Christians meet secretly to read the Bible.

Trained for Faithful Obedience

BuzzBibby-onShip

Captain of submarines and large ships, my father-in-law, Captain Lowe Bibby III, had to be prepared at any minute to faithfully serve wherever needed, even in battle. But He didn’t get to that confident ability overnight. It took years, a lifetime of training. First, he learned and observed from his own father, also a Navy Captain. Then he studied and applied for an appointment to the Naval Academy. After four years of rigorous training, education, memorizing systems, and learning to obey orders, he graduated from the Academy. He was then assigned to serve in Korea, practicing what he had learned. With continual experience and education throughout his career he was prepared, ready and faithful to serve his country in peace time or in battle.

The key to my father-in-law’s success and service as a trained officer was in being faithful to his promise to obey orders. Whether in a submarine, on a ship, at the Pentagon, or in constantly moving from base to base with his family every 2 to 3 years, he was faithful to obey. If he didn’t obey orders it could cost the lives of men who served under him as well as his job and career.

Just like the military men and women who train and serve, Jesus’s followers more than ever need to be trained and ready to serve being faithful to obey orders at any minute. Our training begins with knowing God through His Word, memorizing, studying and applying the Words of our Commander. Then as we walk with Him in faithful obedience we are prepared for the inevitable battle which is upon us daily. Even Jesus learned this obedience as He obeyed His Father,

“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4 “…I have kept My Father’s commandments…” John 15:10

As followers of Jesus, abiding in Him, we need to be faithful to be at our “post” obeying and serving whenever and wherever we are needed. We may be suffering through time spent in training, or serving on the front lines in prayer, overseas in another culture, or supporting those in need. We show our faithfulness as we obey His commands, staying focused on our Commander.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Have I been trained to know His Word and use it effectively? Am I being faithful at my “post” pleasing the One who has enlisted me? Do I give support to others who are serving? Or am I becoming “entangled” in the worldly pursuits around me and have totally forgotten that I am a soldier in a daily battle? As I abide with Jesus, thankfully, He will train me and produce the fruit of faithfulness as I “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Are you being trained and faithfully serving where you are?

Faithful to Follow

Today, people around the world are remembering the brave men- soldiers, airmen and sailors, from World War II who stormed the beaches and flew into occupied France on D-Day 70 years ago. These united forces were brave and devoted in their fight to save the world from an evil tyrant. They were faithful to their commanders and to their orders no matter what their roles were on that infamous day. Every man’s job was crucial as they worked together as a team, fighting alongside each other. More than 9,000 allied forces were killed or wounded on that day because of their faithfulness to their leaders.

 

My own father was there on D-Day. Leaving behind a widowed mother and a handicapped brother whom he had to financially support, he wanted to serve his country. He was a radio operator for the 439th Troop Carrier Group serving at their base headquarters in England on D-Day. My dad was sending and receiving coded messages as the pilots flew troops over to France. At age 92, he still talks about being ready at any moment on that day to fly over on one of the planes as a radio operator if ordered to do so.

 

We honor such faithfulness – maybe because we don’t see this in many people today. We live in a culture that says, “Do what you want”, “It’s all about me”, “I don’t need to follow commands”. As a follower of Jesus I choose to follow Him and His commands for my life. He is my example. Jesus was faithful to obey God, His Father’s orders for his life which meant ultimate sacrifice to save the whole world.

 
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 6:38
“I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” John 14:31

 
If I abide with Jesus and He abides in me I will bear the fruit of faithfulness to Him. Jesus showed his love for His Father, by obeying His commands. As a follower of Jesus I am to be faithful to obey His commands. My faithful obedience to my Lord and commander shows others how much I love Him. Jesus made it clear, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

 
I can trust that His commands are good for me. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3 Jesus promises to be faithful to give us the strength and power through His Spirit to obey His commands. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

 

Like a soldier am I faithful to obey orders, faithful to God? Is Jesus my Lord who I would not want to disappoint but devote myself to serve? Am I brave like the D-day soldiers accepting that I may suffer or even die for my faith? Or do I desire my own will and sometimes want to desert my post where He has placed me? What do you think about D-Day and being faithful?

Yvonne and Daddy at Alabama

My father, a World War II – D Day veteran was faithful to serve!

Real Miracle Grow

With coffee grounds in hand, I begin throwing this “miracle grow” fertilizer under the azalea bushes.  In a few months these pink and rosy red bushes will be filled with blooms so I prepare them with what they love – coffee grounds.

Sometimes I feel I need some extra “miracle grow” as I desire to produce an abundance of fruit in my Christian walk. Like loving that difficult person – again, having patience when I just can’t wait any longer and self-control in an area that just needs a lock and chain on it with the key thrown out. Jesus told His disciples He would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, into our lives who is the real “miracle grow”. He miraculously grows the abundant fruit as I abide with Christ.

Who is the Holy Spirit and what does He do?:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26.

“It is the Spirit who gives life.” John 6:63

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses.” Acts 1:8

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  Galatians 6:22-23

The Holy Spirit gives life, will teach me all things that Jesus said, and gives me the power through Jesus to produce abundant fruit.  My responsibility?  To walk with the Holy Spirit daily and ask Him for the power to love, have patience and for that much needed self-control.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 6:25

Are you dependent on the Holy Spirit? Are you walking with Him?  I sure am thankful Jesus sent the Helper, the Holy Spirit.  I need Him today.